1. The beginning feels like a fairytale and will probably be a whirlwind. During this stage, the narcissist will appear perfect. A master of manipulation, they know precisely what you need and they know how to morph themselves into your ideal. You may find yourself declaring your love for one another very quickly, yet it feels so right. Perhaps you’ll move in together, or you’ll be talking about your future wedding together, maybe you’ll even become engaged, all within a few months. You will find yourself hopelessly infatuated and you will be completely wrapped around the narcissist’s finger.
2. Fading perfection. You will desperately try to please them because you won’t understand why they’ve changed, however this is you beginning to catch glimpses of the harsh reality of who they are. They’ll become moody, withdrawn…. something is changing and you feel like it’s somehow your fault.
3. The constant showers of love, the attention… where did it all go? Once the narcissist is sure you’ve fallen for them, they’ll pull away, subtly at first. They don’t want to send you running quite yet because they want to make sure you’ll put up with their petty games instead of leaving them straight away. If you seem willing to put up with their little distant fazes and their mood swings then they’ll slowly begin to tear away your confidence. Everything will escalate so that eventually you feel like you can never survive without them.
4. They love me, they love me not, they love me… don’t they? The narcissist will shower you with love and then pull back and become colder than the Antarctic Ocean, then they’ll flood you with the warmth of the sun again. You’ll find yourself walking on eggshells around them, never quite knowing what to anticipate and never knowing what could set them off on another tangent.
5. Thriving off your jealousy. The narcissist is incapable of truly loving another person, but they enjoy playing games and meddling with people’s emotions, this is like foreplay for them. You may find them flirting with colleagues right in front of you or even having the nerve to flirt with your friend. If you confront them about it they’ll always have a story to convince you that you’re reading way too much into it or that your friend is trying to stir the cauldron and cause trouble within your relationship. This manipulation is known as gaslighting.
6. They will keep you exhausted so it’s easier to control you. Perhaps they’ll call you during the night and wake you up or they’ll manipulate you into staying up late with them. Regardless of what they do, they’ll make sure you’re so tired you aren’t functioning properly and to the best of your ability so that you become more susceptible to their manipulation.
7. Gaslighting. This is a manipulation tactic and very cleverly carried out. The narcissist will convince you that you’re crazy. Whenever you tell them how you feel they’ll brush you off; “don’t start with this again” or “that never happened, I didn’t say it that way stop being dramatic” or the classic: “you’re imagining things, that never happened.” Subsequently leaving you feeling confused and like your feelings don’t matter. Are you remembering things clearly? Did that really happen? Is it just my hormones playing up? Am I crazy?
8. They make you appear unstable. Usually this plan is launched a few months before the breakup occurs, the narcissist will begin to talk about you behind your back to family members and friends, often seeming like they’re concerned about your “strange” behaviour. They’ll twist the truth into lies and exaggerate reality so it seems as if you’re the one who’s in the wrong, which means that whenever you try to talk to the people closest to you, you’ll find yourself completely alone. The narcissist has convinced them of false truths.
9. They’ll set up bait for a reaction. If a breakup occurs, they will most likely rub new partners/new endeavours in your face. Since they’ve already spent time convincing others that you’re “crazy,” they know that getting a reaction from you will further cement this. They’ll paint you as “the crazy ex” to their next victim so if you reach out to their new partner to warn them they won’t believe a word you say. They will be inclined to believe the narcissists lies over you.
10. They’ll torment you on social media if you still follow them on there. Blocking the narcissist on ALL social media platforms is crucial because they will use this as a way to get under your skin. Some things you can expect to see are: loved up selfies with their new victim, mushy captions about how they’ve finally found their “soulmate” and passive aggressive digs towards you. Torturing yourself by comparing your relationship to their new one is precisely what the narcissist is counting on you doing. Remember, they’re trying to ensure their new partner thinks of you as a “stalker” so they’re counting on you being angry or upset, especially when other people are around to witness it.
11. They seem to treat their new partner “better” than you. Although the truth is, this is all fake. Sure they’ll wine and dine their new victim, spoil them with lavish gifts and parade around with them and plaster loved up snaps all over the web, but none of this will last. Once the new partner has fallen in love with the narcissist the grand loving gestures and attention will end abruptly. The new lover will become the new victim.
12. Cult leaders with a huge fan club. Narcissists are experts at manipulation, this means that they can easily make others get on their side because they have a way of twisting the truth around to benefit them. Alarmingly, many narcissists manage to convince relationship therapists that you are the problem instead of them and can even make sure that your own friends and family turn on you. When you break up with them you will sadly find that at least a few of your close friends side with the narcissist over you because they’ve been spoon fed so many lies. The narcissist seems to innocent, so sickeningly charming that no one could ever imagine that behind the mask lurks such evil. These monsters have minions who will stand by them through all of their drama, a few may eventually be discarded when they can no longer be of use, since the narcissist sees everyone as expendable.
13. Hoovering. This is arguably the most agonising stage because here you are faced with a choice, something you were never usually given. Sometimes a narcissist will attempt to suck you back in, essentially attempting to “hoover” you up. The reason for this is very simple- they cannot stand to see you move forward. Narcissists expect you to agonise over them and pine for them forever, so if they ever begin to notice you’re doing too well without them then they will try to lie and manipulate their way back into your life. It’s so crucial that you DON’T fall for this tactic once you’ve escaped from their clutches because they will never change no matter what they tell you. If you gave them another chance to prove they’d changed things would only be “perfect” for a while, because they will inevitably return to their true ways and the cycle begins again. You can’t win.
14. Moving on from this relationship is not easy and healing isn’t linear. This was no normal relationship or breakup. The person you loved so deeply was never real. How can you move on from that? Narcissists will become whoever they need to be in order to manipulate and gain control of their victims, they seek anyone who will benefit them in some way. Maybe they chose you because your position in society made them appear greater than they are, or they chose you because you’re so compassionate that they knew they could take advantage of your reliability and loyalty. Whatever the reasons, it isn’t your fault. This was abuse and you were set up to fail. The love you thought you had wasn’t ever real, as painful as this realisation can be it is one you must make. Moving forward hurts, but learning to love and respect yourself so much that you won’t ever tolerate this kind of behaviour again is definitely worth something.